Recap of 2019 and Goals for 2020 – Conclusions From Annual General Assembly

On 9 April the Bulgarian Fintech Association had its Annual General Assembly on which the BFA’s members had the chance to discuss what the BFA achieved in the last year, what is about to come in 2020, and the COVID-19 crisis the Fintech sector is facing. In the following paragraphs, we provide you with an overview of this information and forge our 2020 agenda.

I. General Meeting highlights and takeaways for 2020

At the beginning of 2020, we have set ourselves ambitious objectives including the organization of a Balkan Fintech Week, several regulatory workshops, conferences, and events, focussed at fostering the collaboration between Fintech stakeholders in southeast Europe. However, the coronavirus outbreak and the quarantine measures, taken by all EU member states, and in particular Bulgaria, forced us to postpone the face-to-face events and go fully digital. As expressed by our Fintech members during the Annual General Meeting, and in contrast to the traditional industries such as the automotive industry, tourism, etc, our work does not decrease. We face with ease the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic imposed on us by working remotely and avoiding meeting people in person. Similarly to our members, the BFA turns the crisis into an opportunity to encourage the further digitalization of operational processes. We are moving all our activities in the virtual world and embrace the “new ordinary”.  

Although the objectives for 2020 have changed, we are still determined to strengthen Bulgaria’s position as a FinTech hub in the region. For this reason, in 2020 we continue working on regulations and representing the Fintech ecosystem before the regulative and legislative authorities. Furthermore, we are organizing groups of Fintech representatives, who will pro-actively work on creating and submitting regulatory proposals and opinions. 

In addition, we are now helping the BFA’s members in their missions to promote their products and services by organizing weekly webinars. The webinars feature different topics and presenters every week. So far, we have executed 3 webinars and gathered more than 100 participants, which proves the webinars an intriguing communicational channel with the Fintech audience.

During the COVID-19 crisis, we are providing our members with opportunities to take advantage of their membership by offering them discounts for various online events and conferences. In addition, we continue supplying our audience with the latest solutions from the Bulgarian Fintech world through all our social media communication channels.

To follow this agenda we increased our team with another Fintech-minded person – Georgi Penev, a Master in Public Policy and Management from the University of Glasgow, with a proven business development track in the IT-sphere. 

1. 2019 Aftermath: 

During the General Meeting, we have also discussed everything that we have achieved as an Association in 2019. Here, we use the opportunity to remind you of our activities and successes in the previous year:

a. The BFA’s Members and Partners

2019 was an exciting and eventful year for the Bulgarian Fintech Association. We increased our members with 25 companies, among which we have representatives of almost all Fintech branches, both regular and associate members.

We continued to strengthen our network of partners and friends and we participated in various initiatives throughout the year with different like-minded organizations.

b. BFA’s impact on the Bulgarian Fintech ecosystem

– Fintech Report 

In 2019, we launched the very first Bulgarian Fintech report, which gathered invaluable insights on the most important Fintech players in the Bulgarian region. The report met an enormous positive reaction among key stakeholders. In effect, in 2020 we are determined to provide the ecosystem with a new, updated version of the report, which aims to reveal the full potential of Bulgaria as the South Eastern Fintech Hub. 

– Public Discussions on Regulations
Regulations have always been one of our major work axes. In 2019 alone, we managed to successfully submit 10 BFA’s opinions on various bills and laws. We have communicated them in working groups and public discussions with the regulators – BNB, FSC, State National Agency, etc. The results of our joint initiatives are still to be revealed in the upcoming months. 

– Spreading the word
BFA’s Events 
Last year we organized 8 events, not only for the Fintech companies in Bulgaria but also for our peers from Romania.  Furthermore, we had a Fintech press conference to present the Annual Fintech Report and a Fintech Expo at the American University in Bulgaria. Last but not least, we formed a Workshop on Anti-money laundering law with all key stakeholders, during which we discussed best practices and exchanged know-how with several Fintech companies.

c. International Initiatives

– European Fintech Association

In 2019 we participated in the initial discussions with 8 European Fintech representative organizations regarding the creation of a European Fintech Association, whose main goal would be to represent the Fintech industry before the EU legislative and regulatory authorities. The joint efforts eventually led to a meeting in February 2020, when the BFA became one of the nine Founding Members of the European Fintech Association.

– International Conferences
The Bulgarian Fintech Association took part in 10 local and international  conferences, partnered in 20 events around the world, and represented the Bulgarian Fintech experience, challenges, and opportunities.

– Media coverage 

The Bulgarian Fintech Association’s representatives were mentioned in more than 30 Bulgarian and international online media in the last year. Our co-founders and director had 15 + media appearances in Bloomberg TV Bulgaria, Bulgarian National Television, etc. 

Social Media Presence
With the increase in the number of appearances and presence in media, our community emerged, reaching more than 1500 followers in 2019.  It was boosted significantly by 30+ mentions in publications and articles. BFA’s audience, receiving daily, weekly and monthly updates are now more than 300 people.

II. Conclusion

In conclusion, 2019 was a promising year, full of challenges, opportunities, and recognition for the Fintech world in Bulgaria. We received the community’s positive reaction and in 2020 we are determined to keep up the good work towards strengthening the ecosystem and establishing Bulgaria as the Fintech Hub in the region.